Saints and Stories in Tajikistan

03/02/2020 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Niles Gallery
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
Benjamin Gatling
Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, public Islamic religiosity has proliferated; mosques have been constructed, forms of pious dress newly adopted, and previously-proscribed religious texts published. In Tajikistan, Sufi circles have been at the center of this so-called “Islamic revival.” I will discuss stories Sufis in Tajikistan tell about saints, both in oral narratives and print. In particular, I will describe the case of Mavlavi Jununi, a 19th-century poet and Sufi shaykh. During Jununi’s own lifetime and later during the Soviet period, his body of work was unknown save to his own disciples and immediate family. Now, chapbooks of his verse can be found in bookstalls all over the country. Among Sufis, Jununi’s poetry is often held in as high esteem as that of the classical Persian masters. I argue that figures like Jununi legitimate relatively new projects of Islamic piety. Stories about Jununi and others like him have created new notions of what it means to be Muslim in Central Asia after the enormity of Soviet disjuncture.

Sponsored by World Religions program and MCLLC.
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